by T.A. White
Series: Aileen Travers #2
Also in this series: Shadow's Messenger, Moonlight's Ambassador, Dawn's Envoy
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Aileen has a few rules for her life. Do her job and go home safe. Keep the supernatural world away from her human family. Stay off the vampire radar. And, above all, don’t get involved in spook politics.
But when Liam comes back into town bringing a mystery that threatens the life she’s built, she finds every closely guarded rule flying out the window as she sinks ever deeper into the supernatural world.
Ultimately, it may be the people she loves the most who pay the price in the high stakes game that vampires call life.
Aileen’s main defense against the rest of the world is still being annoying AF, and I love it. She’s desperate to keep control of her life, but after the events of the last book, she knows she can’t keep sticking her head in the sand. While Liam promised to help, after several months with no contact, she’s desperate for a way to get answers without putting herself further in debt to any other spooks – or joining a vampire clan.
“You’re something of an idiot. The only person you’re hurting is yourself.”
I gave a shrug. “I’ve never been afraid to cut off my nose to spite my face if it got me what I wanted in the end.”
If the first book was an introduction to the paranormal world of Columbus, this book is all about vampire politics. The selection is being held for the vampire that will rule over the Midwest, and Liam has involved Aileen in trying to secure the nomination for his ally, Thomas. To do that, they must prove that he can sire other vampires, but they believe a hex has been placed on him that prevents that. To remedy that, Aileen is charged with either finding the witch that set the hex or finding one of his descendants, who apparently could be used to break the hex. Problem is, Thomas is the vampire who turned Aileen and left her for dead…
I gave him the expression I used to give my commanding officer when they were being ridiculous. It was a combination of ‘I’m too dumb to understand what you’re saying’ and ‘I can’t even fathom why you’re asking this of me.’ In my experience, people either got really pissed or they left me alone because they figured it’d be a waste of time dealing with my level of obstinateness. Sometimes it was a little of both.
I adore how fiercely independent Aileen is, and that she’s also smart enough to know when it’s wise to cooperate with the other spooks – at least until she can figure out how to wriggle out of what they want her to do. The fact that she’s nearly powerless doesn’t stop her from doing what she feels is right, and it doesn’t matter if it’s her best friend in danger or someone she doesn’t even know. This sets her apart from the other spooks, who seem very much set in keeping within their species lines. Aileen is still coming to terms with being a vampire, in small ways, like trying to wake up before the sun is set every day, or bigger ones, like refusing to drink anything but bagged blood. Beneath all her bluster, she still wants to think of herself as human and the others as monsters, and it’s heartbreaking. And considering that pretty much every other spook in the book is trying to bend her to their will, regardless of what she wants, it can make this book a tough read at times.
Besides more information on vampires and their clan structure, there’s also more information on the witches and further fun and games with Peter the sorcerer, as well as Aileen’s pixie squatters and the mysterious – and possible dangerous – guidebook that was the result of Aileen’s search for more information. Most of the secondary characters are interesting, but still a bit lightly sketched, something I’m hoping will be remedied in the rest of the series. While the pacing was tight and enthralling, the editing could’ve used some work. There’s some phrases that are repeated exactly within a few paragraphs of each other, and if I hear anything more about characters having cut cheekbones, I’m going to scream.
He was attractive if you could get past the crappy personality that made you just want to punch him in the face while screaming ‘you’re not the boss of me.’
It’s obvious at this point that Liam is meant to be the love interest. While he’s certainly interesting, and it’s clear he thinks he has Aileen’s best interests at heart, he’s a vampire, and his idea of what’s good for her doesn’t always jive with what Aileen wants. Her attempts at maintaining control of her life seem more like a game to him. He admits that he manipulated her actions in order to make her choose his desired result, and when he orders her to do things, he also refuses to explain why. I mean, in some ways, I can’t blame him. At one point, Aileen is told directly that eating food will impair the development of her powers, and her response is to continue slurping a milkshake. So while Aileen does have a tendency to act childishly (which she fully admits to!), I’m not sure it absolves Liam of his alphahole-ness. There’s several indications in the book that Aileen is more powerful than she seems, and I’m hoping that as she comes into that power, Liam will take a step back and stop trying to control her so much.
“That will be the last time you point this thing at me,” he warned.
We’d see about that.
“Didn’t realize it scared you so bad,” I said.
He pressed his nose against my neck and inhaled. “That’s not what it does,” he rumbled in my ear.
Overall, even with my reservations about Liam, I couldn’t put this book down and I’m going straight on to the next one. I can’t wait to see how Aileen sasses her way out of the next scrape!